State Stereotypes: Arkansas

By: Bethaney Wallace

Next on our list of American states come the borders of Arkansas. A mid-to-Southern location (though it identifies with the South) that many folks call home. It’s rich in loyalty and longevity, and is known for pride that may even border on stubborn-type behavior. Whether they grew up and moved on, or who found peace within its location later in life. No matter your experience with the local, we’re ready to take everything you previously heard about Arkansas and finally set the record straight.


What You Thought You Knew

The state of Arkansas is known as “the Natural State,” and was named after Quapaw Indians’ native language. It encompasses the words for “land of downriver people” and” people of the south wind,” depending on translation or tribe origin. The state was inducted into the United States in 1836, after having been a territory for roughly 17 years. During the Civil War, Arkansas succeeded from the Union and sided with the South. Today, they rank 34th in population and 29th in land size. The capital city of Little Rock, which is also its largest, has a population of roughly 200,000, with Fayetteville at 79,000, being the state’s second-most dense city. Arkansas is best explored with its diverse terrain, hosting both high and lowlands, as well as plenty of Greenland, which is kept up by various bodies of water and rivers.


It’s Said “Arr Kansas”

Actually, they pronounce it Arr-can-saw – far different than a similarly monikered state, Kansas. The pronunciation is likely a play on the Southern draw. Drawing out the sas/saw portion of the name. In root form, however, the word comes from Native American words, which were spelled and pronounced differently. Much like modern variations on languages (from state to state, and more widespread, think the difference between American English and British English), words gain a different emphasis, based on where you’re located. Those who went north kept the traditional ‘S’ sound, while the Southern portion went for the awe version instead.

Arkansas Flag

“There’s Nothing There”

Likely due to its location as being in-between the North and the South (physically, the state wholly identifies with the South), folks often overlook Arkansas for all it has to offer. Instead, assuming it’s essentially a waste of a state that fails to inform the public about its best qualities. However, that’s a sad stereotype that many have been carrying on for years. In fact, the same thing that makes the land blend in is what actually sets it apart. It’s located on both highlands and lowlands, allowing guests to get an incredibly vast sample of what the United States has to offer, all in a single state. There are rivers to visit, mountains to see, trails to walk, and flatlands to view for miles on end. Even valleys that help complete their vast look. It’s a seriously impressive and diverse location!

Bridge Arkansas

“They are a Bunch of Hillbillies”

For whatever reason, Arkansas has earned itself a reputation as a state that’s full of rednecks and hillbillies. Likely due to their plentiful backwoods – some of which are used as rural living – this stereotype is one that does little justice to a thriving area. Though there are likely some Arkansawyans who still identify as “hillbillies,” that’s also a category that can be true of any state. Don’t overlook this diverse population by failing to see how different the area can actually become.


Moonshine is Plentiful

During Prohibition, illegal forms of alcohol could be found all throughout the country. Decades later, Arkansas is known for hosting some of the biggest rings, which are still in working order. Though numbers have yet to be ran, it’s likely low on the state’s list of professions. That doesn’t mean moonshine can’t be found, it’s simply not all that the state has to offer. However, if history (or liquor) is your thing, there are some neat tours available for tourists (or excited locals). Even better, they come with samples.

Photo by: Rock Town Distillery
Photo by: Rock Town Distillery

Back Roads Make up the Entire States

Because of the aforementioned terrain, Arkansas also hosts numerous back roads. Where users can get in and out as needed, likely in quicker fashion than by following freeways or interstates. Though they’re certainly not the only method of transportation throughout, it’s also a little bit of what makes Arkansas unique. The roads are quick, local-approved, and provide a solid understanding of what the area has to offer. Especially when listed off of the beaten path.

Arkansas back roads